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CHANGE PROGRAM SAVES WARREN WWTP BIG BUCKS!

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Abstract:

The plan for change and the actual change process in a wastewater department can be two remotely different activities based on the organization, its internal culture, and strength of the union and expressiveness of customers.

Each step of moving from the traditional government business models to more progressive, competitive models presents organizational choices along the way. This paper and the associated presentation discuss this utility's success story and gives insight into decisions made by the performance management sponsoring team to achieve large cost savings in an environment of very strong union and customer pressure.

The Warren facilities include a 36 MGD design flow, operating at around 26 MGD average flow, with peaks in excess of 100 MGD. The most labor-intensive processes include scum handling from the primary and secondary systems, and the solids handling processes including pressure flotation, belt filter presses, and a multiple hearth incinerator. Remote facilities include a single, large, remote pumping station.

The overall performance improvement project for the Warren, MI, Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is in its fifth and final year. The program has included the following:



conducted an initial assessment of the organization, practices, and technology used within treatment facilities;


formed, trained, and guided the following teams to assess business cases for improvements, and plan and ensure completion of significant changes:


change sponsor team to plan, oversee, and remove obstacles to improve the organization's ability to properly produce clean water at a much lower cost


executive decision-making team which improved communication between the union and plant staff


grassroots-level steering team of many union employees guided by a management representative to help oversee and set direction for the union-staffed teams within the plant


community and in-plant employee communications team


chemical-energy-materials reduction team


workforce flexibility team which investigated ways to have workers get out of old “silos” of limited activities


skills-based compensation team to develop programs to reward more flexible and skilled workers


pilot recognition and incentive-based pay to facilitate project


plan-driven maintenance team to design and implement best maintenance practices


technology team to select and implement enabling technology (including control systems and maintenance management) as tools for higher productivity


computerized work management implementation team


teams of employees to pilot test the improvement ideas


implemented new technologies.


EMA's initial assessment found a significant gap between the controllable O&M costs versus the expected O&M costs if the plant was operated and maintained using recognized best practices in the industry. Annual savings now exceed 1.75 million per year with a four-year total of 5.8 million. Total savings are projected to be 8M by the end of 2003.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864703784755940

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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